As markets mature, the competitive landscape gets crowded. Industry veterans and startups quickly try to stand out in an already clustered SaaS market. They may fight over the same target buyers and personas as their competitors.
It takes more than just keeping up with the competition on product comparison checklists to stay relevant. Effective product teams position their solutions as market leaders. And it’s not always who’s got the most bells and whistles that end up surviving and thriving. The winners emerging from the scrum of similar offerings differentiate themselves in significant, meaningful, and sometimes surprising ways.
In many cases, these differentiators span far beyond product features and capabilities, separating their solution from the pack by addressing the holistic product experience as part of their overall product strategy.
Killer features for niche markets
Anyone managing a product knows they must maintain competitiveness by offering comparable capabilities. Some leaders surpass the status quo by adding or refining core functionality that improves the user experience. But one way to grab a little extra attention and loyalty is to focus on specific use cases.
Doing a deep dive into a smaller target where your product seems to have some current traction—or an attractive market you haven’t yet penetrated—can sometimes unearth some low-hanging fruit enhancements that are real game-changers for those users. This requires targeted, in-depth user research. The results can yield specific new features or modifications to current functionality.
Even though these product changes may only appeal to a small subset of the overall market, they can make your product the standout rockstar for those customers with a unique selling proposition. Intense loyalty leads to market dominance for that niche. Moreover, it creates a roadmap to expanding into similar segments. Plus, it gives product marketing a lot of material to work with in pursuing those potential customers.
Convincing a new user to try or buy your product from among all the other options is challenging. But even more important to the product’s success is getting them to use it and quickly realize its value and benefits. Building out a robust onboarding process is a key part of product launch strategies that’s far too easy to overlook.
Proactively getting users up to speed and quickly seeing success with your products can be a key ingredient to creating an outstanding customer experience. While some customers may prefer to “figure things out for themselves,” most users are happy to engage with onboarding materials, sessions, and calls to cut down the learning curve and avoid common pitfalls. It also helps create a more personal relationship with your company since they’ll know there are real people behind the product invested in their success as a user and willing to help them get there.
For those unwilling to engage in “formal” onboarding programs, comprehensive, searchable support documentation, quick start guides, FAQs, and the like are table stakes. However, companies can take this a few steps further by offering in-app tips and support, as well as using user behavior triggers to proactively send them additional content relevant to their usage.
For example, a new user of a CRM tool could be sent a congratulatory email when they’ve added a new company, contact, or deal, telling them about what else they can do now that they’ve reached this milestone. The tricky part is finding the sweet spot between being proactively helpful and an overeager nudge. But that’s what A/B testing is for, right?
Make it easier in a clustered SaaS market
Your product helps users do something. Your competition’s products help them do the same thing. But what if your product was easier to use, sped up the process, and simpler to understand?
Dumbing down a product might feel like an odd path to market success. However, a complicated user experience can be a real turn-off for new users. Moreover, it can create a negative reputation in the market. This doesn’t mean sacrificing functionality for simplicity but rather streamlining things and lowering the barriers to entry and mastery.
Every product has ample opportunities, from installation and configuration to routine user experience workflows. Reducing the required number of clicks to complete a task, auto-populating fields, shortening the real estate a user must cover with their mouse… these little things can add to a much cleaner user experience.
You can keep in the fancy, complicated stuff for power users who need to get into the weeds. Your product aims to help users achieve these core tasks and keep them simpler and easier than the alternative options. New customers will realize value quicker. Consequently, loyal customers will appreciate the speed and ease with which they navigate the product. Furthermore, your easy-to-use reputation will encourage more trials.
Quantify your product’s awesomeness
You and your competitors have products that do similar things with plenty of overlap. So how can you claim to be “the best” out of all those options? If you put in the right instrumentation, your metrics can help support the success of your product.
With the right data, your product marketing team can start publicizing the quantifiable benefits of your solution. However, you need to combine it with survey data from users. Time savings, productivity, throughput, efficiency, increased output, profitability, fewer errors or returns… these metrics your customers care about and hope your product can improve.
With hard data, you can present these measurable improvements to the market as evidence of your product’s superiority. Combined with testimonials and case studies, this is a powerful tool in your differentiation arsenal. Moreover, it provides fodder and talking points for sales pitches, social media posts, and much more.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should always stage a full-frontal assault on your top competitors. Unless you have solid data on your solution and third party, you could quickly get your firm into hot water. Just take pride in what your product can do and tell the world exactly how amazing it is. However, the product’s success with some numbers to back it up.
Stay customer-centric when navigating a clustered SaaS market
Spend less time listening and watching what the competition is doing. Instead, expend more energy and attention on your actual users. Their own customer journeys are unique, and they may not care nearly as much about your rival’s new widget as you might think.
Continuous feedback loops and customer advisory boards can ground the product team in what’s meaningful to the real people and companies seeking out and utilizing your solutions. Chances are that if your current user base cares about something, prospects will also. Plus, you’ll know that each new enhancement, extension, and supported integration will, at a minimum, delight your current customers who have many choices in a clustered SaaS market.